Raw Pet Food: Veterinarians warn about trendy diet for dogs and cats
The FDA and CDC have recommended not feeding dogs and cats a raw diet, meaning meat that is not cooked to a proper temperature. However, it's a trend that's growing.
It's referred to as fresh dog and cat food and it's lining pet store isles. It means the dog and cat food is either raw or barely cooked meat and vegetables.
"What it is it's going back to nature so it's biologically appropriate," explained Amy Johnson with Feeders Supply Stores. "Wolves would not find a dry food, wolves would not find a canned food. But they do find meat and their teeth are made to shred meat and so that's what we need to be feeding them."
Johnson went on to explain that entirely raw meat is not good. It's missing a lot of vitamins dogs and cats need. The meat her store sells has been cooked to a specific temperature to avoid all the bacteria.
But many dog and cat owners are going completely raw, and that's causing trouble for local veterinarians like Dr. Kristin Quicksall with Brighton Animal Clinic.
"We've had pets that have passed away from salmonella. Extreme diarrhea, extreme (gastrointestinal illnesses). So I would deter them away from the raw diet," Quicksall said.
When owners ask about a raw food diet, Dr. Quicksall said she talks to the owner about the aspects of preparing the food, how it could be contaminated and it's very messy.
Preparation for raw diets can also cause owners to get sick from salmonella.
"The only thing we have to keep in mind is that the raw diets have a lot of bacteria in them and these bacteria are something that's zoonotic meaning that the owner can also get that bacteria," Quicksall explained.
Distributors have caught on to the raw food trend and found a way to make it safer and much less messy. It is pricey, however, Johnson said a little bit can go a long way since almost all of it is digested by the dog or cat.
"You have a little bit of increased cost but you do have the fact to be a little bit safer of bacteria content and balance of the content," she said.